Eateries accused of sneaky gratuities

Aug. 30, 2011 at 12:19 PM
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NEW YORK, Aug. 30 (UPI) -- A New York restaurant and a city bar are being accused by customers of improperly charging automatic gratuities.

A customer who dined at La Birreria on Fifth Avenue complained to Web site that a waiter counted two babies, one in a stroller and one in a high chair, as diners to bring the total to six and qualify for an automatic 20 percent gratuity, the New York Post reported Tuesday.

"Is a tip supposed to be something that just lines the pockets of the staff for just being there and smiling, or is it something that is supposed to be earned and, hence, serve as a reward? I say the latter," the customer said.

A La Birreria manager was unavailable for comment, the Post said.

A patron at another business, the Cuban-themed Cienfuegos bar on Avenue A, said he and two friends ordered drinks and later joined a larger party at another table. He said he was charged the automatic 20 percent gratuity despite he and his friends being on a separate tab.

A Cienfuegos manager said the 20 percent gratuity is automatic for any parties of six people or more, even if they request separate checks.

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